People have known about the beneficial effects of the hemp plant for thousands of years. Beneficial impacts like relieving neuropathic pain (caused by damage to the nervous system), decreasing intraocular pressure (fluid pressure inside the eye), reducing vomiting and nausea, and enhancing appetite were part of traditional knowledge.
These effects originate from chemicals referred to as cannabinoids. There are more than 140 identified cannabinoids. The two most abundant chemicals found in cannabis include delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol. THC is associated with the recreational use of hemp and causes the users to feel high. Cannabidiol (CBD), however, has several potential benefits, and it does not have psychotic effects on its users.
Cannabidiol, commonly named CBD, is extracted from cannabis by a process similar to THC extraction from cannabigerolic acid (CBDA). The only difference in the extraction process occurs in the final stage, whereby THCA synthase and CBDA synthase are subjected to decarboxylation to produce THC and CBD consequently.
Safe to Use
Unlike THC, CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects. Several trials of CBD for possible therapeutic effects show that patients tolerate it well; it has a good safety profile.
Scientists studied the possibility of CBD transformation into THC in the human gut. But there is no evidence of such an occurrence after oral dosage. Research also reveals that higher doses of CBD fail to produce effects similar to THC, such as impairment, increased heart rate/tachycardia, dry mouth, or considerable build-up of THC/THC metabolites in blood plasma.
Several trials of CBD for possible therapeutic effects show that it is tolerated well by the human body. Limited control experiments have evidenced that there is no link between CBD and abuse potential. One such study revealed that compared to active cannabis, which showed abuse-related and other effects, CBD did not affect the human body.
CBD is under constant medicinal trials around the world to determine its potential for treatment. Several claims revolve around the therapeutic properties of CBD. These vary from analgesic properties to effectiveness in cancer treatment and more. The most compelling scientific evidence exists for the effective use of CBD in the treatment of childhood epilepsy.
CBD affects the cannabinoid receptors type 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2). CB1 receptors are found in our central nervous system and have a role in pain perception. CB2 receptors are associated with the immune system, antagonistic effects on which causes inhibition of inflammatory response. The interaction of CBD with these receptors is responsible for the alleviation of pain.
Research identifies the efficiency of cannabidiol and THC in treating chronic pain. There is a varying degree of effectiveness in treating neuropathic pain of various classifications. The results related to pain score and improvement in quality of life are valuable.
Researchers explored CBD's effect on anxiety-related disorders like panic, generalised anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies show CBD as a potential treatment for anxiety-related disorders. CBD affects the neuromodulatory endocannabinoid system (eCBS), responsible for controlling several functions, including emotional behaviour. Emotional behaviour is itself linked to learning and emotionally noticeable events.
A recent study conducted to identify CBD efficacy against anxiety symptoms among patients having Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) showed CBD intake significantly reduced anxiety, difficulty in speech performance, cognitive disability, and alertness in anticipatory speech. Another study on SAD patients showed that CBD use resulted in a notable reduction in anxiety.
2. Multiple Sclerosis
One of the most often quoted claims about the uses of CBD includes its efficiency in treating pain. Most of the research conducted in this domain involves using both CBD and THC in varying forms. The combo was effective in patients with Multiple sclerosis when administered in the form of a buccal spray. It was also effective in treating neuropathic pain which reduced sleep disturbance among the patients under study. A study on MS patients found a given mixture of CBD and THC enhanced movement and decreased spasm frequency.
CBD as a treatment for epilepsy dates to trials conducted in the 1970s. A study to determine the efficacy of CBD in treating epilepsy over 4 ½ months found, half of the patients did not experience any seizures while more than 37% recovered partially. Another group tested for the effectiveness of CBD in treating uncontrollable, medicine-resistant, childhood-onset epilepsy found the frequency of motor seizures fall considerably over the 12-week study period.
Dravet syndrome, a childhood epilepsy disorder, is drug-resistant and has a high mortality rate, was treated with CBD. The patients receiving CBD noted a decrease in violent seizures, and a small group even reported going seizure-free. Observed adverse effects include diarrhoea, loss of appetite, and drowsiness. Experts opine that the side effects may be caused by the interaction of anti-epilepsy medicine with CBD, as shown in a study where patients took clobazam alongside CBD.
An increasing body of work links schizophrenia with neuroinflammatory conditions. An animal study on schizophrenia revealed that treatment with CBD results in improved behaviour. It shows CBD’s therapeutic potential for patients affected by schizophrenia. But the full potential of CBD for treating schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis warrants large-scale clinical trials.
Depression is one of the most common psychological issues. World Health Organisation reports that an estimated 264 million people are affected by depression. CBD has potential antipsychotic and antidepressant capabilities. It is considered potentially effective against anxiety, depression.
Though the mechanisms are not well-understood, most likely CBD helps with depression by facilitating neurotransmission through the 5-HT1A receptor via direct and indirect interactions with the CB1 receptor. The 5-HT1A receptor is a type of serotonin receptor responsible for mood stability. Having lower serotonin levels is linked to depression and anxiety. CBD can also promote brain-derived neurotrophic factors, an activity associated with mood stability. Besides the limited preclinical data, there is subjective evidence of CBD's effectiveness as an antidepressant among patients with primary and secondary depressive disorders.